Classical Sociological Theorists: An Overview of Key Contributions, Concepts, and Applications

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Directions: Develop a chart in which you include the categories listed below for eight classical sociological theorists such as Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, George Herbert Mead, Herbert Spencer etc.
Name and Background
Sociological Theory or Contribution
Key Concepts
Application of Theory in Society
The objective of Assignment One is to demonstrate an understanding of classical theorists’ contributions to the discipline of sociology. Use the readings in Module One, links to the university library and other scholarly and reputable resources to complete assignment one.


Classical Sociological Theorists: An Overview

Name and Background:

  1. Karl Marx (1818-1883) – German philosopher, economist, and revolutionary socialist
  2. Max Weber (1864-1920) – German sociologist, philosopher, and political economist
  3. Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) – French sociologist and social philosopher
  4. George Herbert Mead (1863-1931) – American sociologist and philosopher
  5. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) – English philosopher and sociologist
  6. Auguste Comte (1798-1857) – French philosopher and founder of positivism
  7. Talcott Parsons (1902-1979) – American sociologist and social evolutionist
  8. W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963) – American sociologist, historian, and civil rights leader

Sociological Theory or Contribution:

  1. Karl Marx – Marxist theory of historical materialism and class struggle
  2. Max Weber – Theory of social action, the concept of ideal types, and the protestant ethic thesis
  3. Emile Durkheim – Theory of functionalism and the concept of social solidarity
  4. George Herbert Mead – Theory of symbolic interactionism and the concept of self
  5. Herbert Spencer – Theory of social evolution and the concept of “survival of the fittest”
  6. Auguste Comte – Theory of positivism and the concept of scientific study of society
  7. Talcott Parsons – Theory of action theory and the concept of social systems
  8. W.E.B. Du Bois – Theory of double consciousness and the concept of “the veil” in regards to race relations

Key Concepts:

  1. Karl Marx – Historical materialism, class struggle, exploitation, communism
  2. Max Weber – Social action, ideal types, protestant ethic, rationalization
  3. Emile Durkheim – Functionalism, social solidarity, division of labor, social order
  4. George Herbert Mead – Symbolic interactionism, self, role-taking, significant others
  5. Herbert Spencer – Social evolution, survival of the fittest, progress, differentiation
  6. Auguste Comte – Positivism, scientific study of society, law of three stages
  7. Talcott Parsons – Action theory, social systems, pattern variables, functional fit
  8. W.E.B. Du Bois – Double consciousness, the veil, race relations, African American experience

Application of Theory in Society:

  1. Karl Marx – Understanding of capitalist society, class struggle, and the role of labor in society
  2. Max Weber – Explanation of the role of religion and ideas in shaping society and the economy
  3. Emile Durkheim – Explanation of social integration and social order in modern societies
  4. George Herbert Mead – Understanding of how individuals form their self-concept through interaction with others
  5. Herbert Spencer – Explanation of the historical process of social change and development
  6. Auguste Comte – Scientific approach to studying society and social phenomena
  7. Talcott Parsons – Understanding of how social systems and institutions function to maintain stability
  8. W.E.B. Du Bois – Analysis of the experiences of African Americans in society and the concept of double consciousness.

In conclusion, the eight classical sociological theorists discussed here have made significant contributions to the discipline of sociology. Their theories and concepts have helped to shape our understanding of society and social phenomena and have been applied in various ways to understand and explain social problems and issues.

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